Former USC player: DL coach cussed me out for going to class

Ed Orgeron got under the skin of a former player.   (Photo: USATSI)
Ed Orgeron may have gotten under the skin of a former player. (USATSI)

Colorful USC defensive line coach Ed Orgeron once cussed out former Trojan lineman Bobby DeMars for leaving practice early to attend class, Demars told Time magazine on Monday.

Demars played for USC from 1998-2001 during Orgeron's first stint as defensive line coach for the school. Orgeron later became the head coach at Ole Miss before returning to coach the defensive line for the Trojans under Lane Kiffin.

As Demars told it:

In order to show up on time for a required statistics course one semester, he says he had to leave spring practice twenty minutes early, once a week. His defensive line coach, Ed Orgeron, wasn’t happy. You motherf—-r, DeMars remembers Orgeron, who went on to become head coach at Ole Miss from 2005 to 2007, and is now back at USC as assistant head coach, shouting at him. “He M-F’d me all over the place,” says DeMars. “He made me feel like a bad person for going to class.”

Orgeron was not made available for comment by the school, but athletic director Pat Haden did release a statement via email to Time:

“While the alleged events happened before my time as athletic director at USC,” school athletic director Pat Haden said in an email statement, “I can say that all our football practices have been open to the media and players’ families since before Bob was here, and have been open to the public for most of that time as well. The transparency of practice would have brought to light this type of alleged inappropriate behavior. We also have high standards for our coaches and monitor and evaluate them as we would any of our employees.”

“Additionally, we have always been proud to support our student-athletes in a full range of academic pursuits. Majors represented in 2012 among football alone included Theatre, Business Administration, Psychology, Communications, Economics, Chemical Engineering and Political Science.”

Demars spent most of his career as a backup, but he did start two games as a senior during Pete Carroll's first season in 2001. He's now a budding filmmaker seeking funding for his documentary titled "The Business of Amateurs," which questions the culture and direction of college sports.

What's to make of this story from Orgeron's standpoint? Not a whole lot, really. If it happened, it was at least 12 years ago and it portrays a version of Orgeron that probably no longer exists -- that of a maniacal, irrational, medieval Cajun who can't see the forest for the trees. But only a more mellow, toned-down Orgeron could survive the current USC probationary environment. And, besides, we all mature over time.

While DeMars does acknowledge the brilliance of Orgeron as a line coach, his overall point -- that academics is sometimes shunted aside by athletic priorities at big-time universities  -- still resonates.

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